Zoos argue that they save endangered species and educate the public,but animal rights activists believe the costs outweigh the benefits, andthe violation of the rights of the individual animals is unjustifiable.Roadside zoos, petting zoos, and smaller animal exhibitors tend to keepthe animals in smaller pens or cages. Sometimes, barren concrete andmetal bars is all a tiger or bear will know for their entire lives. Larger,accredited zoos try to distance themselves from these operations bytouting how well the animals are treated, but to animal rights activists,the issue not how well the animals are treated, but whether we have aright to confine them for our amusement or "education."Arguments For ZoosBy bringing people and animals together, zoos educate the public andfoster an appreciation of the animals. This exposure and educationmotivates people to protect the animals.Zoos save endangered species by bringing them into a safeenvironment, where they are protected from poachers, habitat loss,starvation and predators.Many zoos also have breeding programs for endangered species. Inthe wild, these individuals might have trouble finding mates andbreeding.Reputable zoos are accredited by the Association of Zoos andAquariums and are held to high standards for the treatment of theanimals. According to the AZA, accreditation means, "officialrecognition and approval of a zoo or aquarium by a group of experts."A good zoo provides an enriched habitat in which the animals arenever bored, are well cared-for, and have plenty of space.Zoos are a tradition, and a visit to a zoo is a wholesome, familyactivity.
Seeing an animal in person is a much more personal and morememorable experience than seeing that animal in a naturedocumentary.Some would argue that humans have little, if any duty to non-humananimals because humans are more important, and if keeping animals inzoos serves any educational or entertainment purposes, we canethically do it.Zoos help rehabilitate wildlife and take in exotic pets that people nolonger want or are no longer able to care for.Both accredited and unaccredited animal exhibitors are regulated bythe federal Animal Welfare Act, which establishes standards forcare.Arguments Against ZoosFrom an animal rights standpoint, we do not have a right to breed,capture and confine other animals, even if they are endangered.Being a member of an endangered species doesnt mean the individualanimals have fewer rights.Animals in captivity suffer from stress, boredom and confinement.Intergenerational bonds are broken when individuals get sold ortraded to other zoos, and no pen or even drive-through safari cancompare to the freedom of the wild.Baby animals bring in visitors and money, but this incentive to breednew baby animals leads to overpopulation. Surplus animals are soldnot only to other zoos, but also to circuses, canned hunting facilities,and even for slaughter.The vast majority of captive breeding programs do not releaseanimals back into the wild. The offspring are forever part of thechain of zoos, circuses, petting zoos, and exotic pet trade that buy,sell and barter animals among themselves and exploit animals. Nedthe Asian elephant was born at an accredited zoo, but later
confiscated from an abusive circus trainer and finally sent to asanctuary.Removing individuals from the wild will further endanger the wildpopulation because the remaining individuals will be less geneticallydiverse and will have more difficulty finding mates.If people want to see wild animals in real life, they can observewildlife in the wild or visit a sanctuary. A true sanctuary does notbuy, sell, or breed animals, but takes in unwanted exotic pets, surplusanimals from zoos or injured wildlife that can no longer survive in thewild.An individuals rights should not be infringed for the sake of thespecies. A species is not asentient being and therefore has no rights.If zoos are teaching children anything, its that imprisoning animalsfor our own entertainment is acceptable.At least one study has shown that elephants kept in zoos do not liveas long as elephants in the wild.The federal Animal Welfare Act establishes only the most minimalstandards for cage size, shelter, health care, ventilation, fencing,food and water. For example, enclosures must provide "sufficientspace to allow each animal to make normal postural and socialadjustments with adequate freedom of movement. Inadequate spacemay be indicated by evidence of malnutrition, poor condition, debility,stress, or abnormal behavior patterns." Violations often result in aslap on the wrist and the exhibitor is given a deadline to correct theviolation. Even a long history of inadequate care and AWA violations,such as the history of Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, will not free theanimals.Sanctuaries also rehabilitate wildlife and take in unwanted exoticpets, without breeding, buying and selling animals like zoos do.Animals sometimes escape their enclosures, endangering themselvesas well as people. There have even been incidents of zooanimals eating other zoo animals.
In the case of zoos, both sides will argue that their side saves animals.Zoo proponents do not believe in animal rights, so many of thearguments against zoos are not persuasive to them, while otherarguments may seem to apply only to inferior zoos, such as roadsidezoos and petting zoos.Imagine a world without greenery around, without the four leggedones, without the flying colours? Such a world would be hollow withoutthe essence. Man is blessed to co-exist in this beautiful world, withplants, animals, birds and all other living „loving‟ creatures. If alone manunderstands his duty, his legacy, to live practising “Love All Serve All,Help Ever Hurt Never”, coexisting with his co-creation, he can surelyclaim that his heart has been touched by God. Why man should co-existin nature and why do animals, birds matter for him?Animals matter because they are sentient beings just like us. Althoughthey can‟t speak in our human language, this does not mean that theyare automatons with no feeling as certain „scientific‟ and „philosophic‟thinking has claimed for centuries…..an attitude which has hardenedthe hearts of many and justified all kinds of cruelty and exploitation ofanimals, „legitimate‟ and illegitimate. This attitude is now thankfullyslowly changing and certain scientists of animal behaviour are finallyaccepting that animals are feeling – and dare I say it – thinking beingswith complex emotional lives. They feel joy, love, pain, fear, anxiety,sorrow and demonstrate humour, the range of animal sentience that isnow being recognised is astounding – even a bull has been known togrieve at the death of his ownerEven pigeons have shown mathematical abilities on par with certainprimates. As for parrots, they are a whole amazing story in itself;they have the emotional age of a toddler and the intelligence of a
five year old. They bond so deeply with either their parrot or humancompanions that parting and separation cause great suffering tothem, so much so that they have been known to stop eating and die asa result of this.“Love is present not only in human beings but also in all creatures,birds or beasts; nor is that all. It is in fact all pervasive. Lovepervades everything in creation. Man‟s humanness is vitiated when hefails to recognise this love.” – SathyaSai (SS February 1995, pg 37)